Conceptualizing ‘Academic Blueprints’: An Adaptation of Austin Kleon’s ‘Newspaper Blackout’ Designed for World-Building

One of the goals of my artistic project is to design new worlds. Specifically, I aim to design the conceptual foundations for three new simulated worlds.

The concept of an ‘academic blueprint’ for world-building

One way to go about designing new worlds is just let the imagination run wild. The natural imagination will probably take ideas and experiences in mind, juxtapose them, and recombine them in new patterns. I have decided to try a new technique to both restrict and add to the normal imagination process. I am going to call the initial outputs of this process Academic Blueprints.

If you’ve been following me over the past couple of days, it is abundantly clear that I am totally fanboying on Austin Kleon at the moment. He has a form of art that he calls Newspaper Blackout. Basically, he takes a block of newsprint and makes poems by selecting choice words and blacking out the rest. You can see a video describing how he makes newspaper blackout here.

The most productive part of my day was to conceive of Academic Blueprints. This will be an adaptation of newspaper blackouts that I am going to try to use for my purpose of world-building.

To create my Academic Blueprints, I will take print from a popular periodical that covers an academic topic. For example, Scientific American is a layperson’s periodical that covers scientific topics.

Like Kleon, I will begin by selecting a choice word, but I will add the limitation that this word should be related to an academic topic that somehow governs our reality. Also like Kleon, I will then go about selecting additional words to make a poem while blacking out the rest. However, my aim will be to describe some sort of new reality centered around the choice word I have selected. These initial poems can then be juxtaposed, re-combined, and expounded at a later date.

I think that I will call these poems Academic Blueprints and use the color blue, rather than black, to strike the unwanted words.

This, in a nutshell, is the Academic Blueprint artistic process that I conceived today. I will try a few of these over the next several days, and I will share my progress with you. Wish me luck!